MERIDEN — There was a higher level of enthusiasm than in years past at Platt High School’s pep rally Wednesday, as the student body cheered on the Panthers football squad as they go for a perfect season in today’s Stoddard Bowl game.
Students filed into the gymnasium to the sounds of the marching band, which stood at mid-court. Staff members were dressed in school colors, some in Platt football jerseys. Platt alum School Superintendent Mark D. Benigni was in attendance to witness the school spirit.
Though Platt has had other successful seasons, a win over Maloney High School today would mark the first time since 1986 the football team finished the regular season undefeated. To accomplish the feat, the playoff-bound Panthers will have to overcome their crosstown rival.
“Maloney may be 1-8,” head football coach Jason Bruenn told the crowd. “But we are gonna play them like they are a state playoff team... This year has been one unlike we’ve had in a long time.”
English teacher Stephen Smith read off a long list of accomplishments for this year’s team, including a school record for a single season of 16 touchdown receptions for Creme Watford and a single-game record of 350 rushing yards by Tyzhan Leatherwood. Bruenn also announced each senior to the crowd, which drew loud cheers.
Smith reminded the crowd of the Panthers’ perfect Stoddard Bowl record since the crosstown rivalry game was moved to Falcon Field. Student-made signs reminded the audience of the 44-0 Platt victory in last year’s Thanksgiving game.
The pep rally highlight was the powder puff game cheerleaders, a group of male seniors dressed in drag that entertained the audience. The “cheerleaders” danced a routine to a variety of songs, performed acrobatic stunts and twerked on multiple occasions.
Other highlights included a performance by the school’s actual cheerleaders, the dance group “The Pantherettes,” and a relay race that included carrying a football on a spoon, among other challenges. The relay race between classes was won by the seniors.
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